Maybe it’s because I’m a new runner or maybe it’s because I have a natural tendency to let my imagination go a little crazy. Whatever the reason, sometimes the thought of an early morning solo run is a little unnerving to me. Sure, there’s something wonderful about being outside running as the rest of the world soundly sleeps, but thanks to my active imagination, I get nervous thinking about being alone and having no back up should something go wrong. Even a run in my own neighborhood can make me twitchy.
I have a really cool trail behind my house that is perfect for a nice, quick run but I rarely run that trail because I don’t like going out there alone. It’s weird. I have this fantastically ridiculous imagination that always runs amok when it comes to planning a solo outdoor run. Here are some actual “what if” scenarios that run through my head when deciding whether or not I should head outdoors for my trail run (thanks in advance for not judging):
- What if a cougar stalks and attacks me while I’m on the trail?! You might be thinking, “Wow! Slow girl has a cougar in her neighborhood. I’d be scared too.” But that’s the thing. I do nothave a cougar in my hood. There is a little tabby cat that roams around, and I’ve seen a bunny too, but nothing really ferocious that should keep me from enjoying a nice outdoor run. Except maybe for that gigantic owl that most likely has the ability to swoop down and cause God knows what kind of injury to me.
- What if maybe, just maybe, there is a crazy man that lives in the rocks on the trail. I’ve seen the cave-like openings from afar and a person could totally live in those rocks. I picture this Big Foot type guy, but not big (which means his name would just be Foot). Anyway, Foot most likely takes shelter in the rock caves during the night then really early in the morning, he moves stealthily on the trail and sets booby traps and stuff to catch his prey. I would unwittingly go for a nice morning trail run, I’d fall into the trap, break my leg and be a goner come nightfall. See what I mean about the imagination thing?
I know that the “what if” scenarios are ridiculous. Welcome to my demented brain. Check out this real life scenario. One morning I decided to run to a local park, jog a few miles on the park’s course and run back home. As I was running through the park, minding my own business, fiddling with my iPod, I looked up and right in front of me was a deer. It kind of freaked me out because I wasn’t expecting a deer at the friendly neighborhood park. Swings, a slide and some picnic tables I expected, but not a deer. I tried to act cool because I did not want to get attacked by a deer. Not that day. Not ever. Bambi can be downright brutal when necessary and I’ve seen it happen on a television show once. Knowing that no one would believe the tale of Bambi at the Park, I slowly reached for my camera phone and bravely took a picture of Bambi. After carefully putting my phone away, I ran away as fast as I could because the threat of a deer attack was more than I could bear.
(picture of the actual deer in the tale of ‘Bambi at the Park’)
These silly fears are just that, silly. However, I do take running safety very seriously. I thoroughly enjoy my outdoor runs and I don’t want my active imagination to stop me from doing something I enjoy. To put my mind at ease, I decided to do a little research on runner safety. Here are the highlights of some lessons I learned.
- Run with a buddy. A friend, a dog, or running group are great options.
- Tell someone where you are going. I always tell my husband where I’m going and to start looking for me if I’m not back by a certain time.
- Run against traffic. It’s safer if you can see oncoming traffic and they can see you.
- Don’t listen to music while running alone. This is a tough one for me because that’s one thing I LOVE to do while running. I started putting only one headphone in and keeping the music low so I could still hear things around me (including my labored breathing).
- Wear bright colored clothing.
- Carry a phone and identification.
- Know your route. When I did my recent 11 mile run, I had never been on the trail before and I knew I would be on it for a long time. I invited my husband and son to join me so they rode their bikes along the trail and we had a great time. I felt better knowing I had back up nearby.
- Trust your gut. If something doesn’t seem right, pay attention to your intuition!
Here are a couple of great articles on safety tips for runners:
How to Run Safely Outside by Christine Luff at About.com
Stay Safe While You Run – from realbuzz.com
Have fun on your run and remember…safety first!